Polish courts uphold the principle of professional confidentiality

Statement by the Executive Committee of AIIC

The International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) applauds the recent verdict of the Polish courts in the case of interpreter Magda Fitas-Dukaczewska.

Ms Fitas-Dukaczewska refused demands from the Polish National Prosecution Authority to testify regarding discussions she had interpreted between the Polish and Russian Prime Ministers, invoking the principle of professional confidentiality.

In January 2019 AIIC released a statement, urging that this principle be respected in this matter, echoing a previous statement in July 2018 issued amidst calls that an interpreter divulge information about a discussion between the Russian and US presidents. A letter of support for Ms Fitas-Dukaczewska, signed by three former Polish presidents, eight prime ministers and many foreign and defence ministers, also called for her confidentiality to be honoured.

After various legal proceedings the court has now issued a final verdict, recognizing that waiving the interpreter's confidentiality requirement would not serve the purpose of justice and could be detrimental to state interests.

AIIC notes that the court’s decision is in accordance with the Principle of Confidentiality for Professional Interpreters, a principle that has been applied worldwide since WWII, as enshrined in Article 2a of AIIC’s Code of Professional Ethics:

AIIC Code of Professional Ethics

Art. 2 a) Members of the Association shall be bound by the strictest secrecy, which must be observed towards all persons and with regards to all information disclosed in the course of the practice of the profession at any gathering not open to the public.

If genuine communication is to be ensured in a high-level multilingual situation, the parties to said communication must be able to unreservedly trust interpreters not to reveal confidential information, hence the importance of upholding the principle, as observed on several occasions, that interpreters should never be obliged to give testimony.

AIIC Executive Committee

About AIIC

The International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC), established in 1953, is the only global association of conference interpreters, and brings together over 3,000 professional interpreters from every continent.

AIIC, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, is an association composed of individual members who are professional conference interpreters, including many permanent staff interpreters working for government institutions, including national governments, the EU institutions, the UN, international courts, NATO and others.  

Recommended citation format:
Executive Committee. "Polish courts uphold the principle of professional confidentiality". aiic.ca September 27, 2019. Accessed July 9, 2020. <http://aiic.ca/p/8867>.